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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Old Story From Hulu Selangor

Overheard in a restaurant - Mejar, Batang Kali

" Are you sure?” someone behind me exclaimed in a restaurant.

“Of course, if you do not vote for the government man, you will suffer,” said the other. “But how could I suffer if I vote for the opposition?”, the first voice asked again. “From your IC number in the electoral roll, the authorities can trace you and then you will know what next!”
By the time the second question was asked, I had already turned around from my cup of tea at the same restaurant and saw five guys busy discussing the coming by election in Hulu Selangor.
The restaurant was almost full with early birds for breakfast. Here, people of all races mixed freely over tea and coffee with an assortment of local food that also attracted me.
With such interesting talk, I left my table, holding my cup of tea and joined the group. The group was taken aback when an outsider like myself joined in. I assured them I will not report them to anyone.
“You all should stand out in the open with hands stretched out,” I said. “What for,” asked one of the guys. “Hey, don’t you want to catch the projects, instant cash falling from the sky that now shower your area because of the by election?”
“That is only empty talk like usual for the past tens of years!”
“But surely,” I continued, “You cannot say the top people in the country are bluffing?”
“Normal lah, pancing undi dengan umpan kerat cacing!”
I could not believe this as this was my first time I have heard directly what voters would think each time any election comes by (all the conversation was in Bahasa but I translate it other than some words that I feel should be written as spoken).
By this time, a few of the people I was talking to thought I was a reporter (I did not say anything). “Who told you that the authorities will punish you if the opposition won from your votes?” I asked.
Everyone knows, the answer came.
“But how?” I asked again. They can trace from the electoral roll after the election and that is why many areas under the opposition do not get any development or financial support due to the area.
Someone chipped in, “Look at Kelantan and now Kedah and Penang.” Wow, this was getting heavier than I thought. There were some ‘lone rangers’ at tables nearby who sort of plugged their ears in but did not want to join or look at the group. I was suspicious that these ‘lone rangers’ were moles or eyes and ears planted. But this did not bother the group with whom I was talking. Some asked me whether I would be going around to hear other comments. I was not into politics, I told them. “Right,” one guy replied, “Politics is so filthy dirty.”
“So, what happens to the instant financial allocations during elections?” I asked. A guy just chipped in, “Well if there are any, the select few would fill their pockets. But normally those are only empty promises. There are projects that for years never take off and if started with some meagre budget would be left uncompleted as white elephants for decades.”
Before I left the group, someone suggested I should go around for more interesting revelations or true stories especially during campaigns. How can I do that as I have to “cari makan”.
Like us also, another guy added, “Look at us, we toil from morning till dark just to get enough to support our families. Whatever we do, is all our own efforts.”
“But you should get some privileges or assistance from the government for what you are,” I said.
“I am not from the elite group at the top most, only my vote is sought during elections, after that I do not exist.”
What can I say? Listen, smile and wish the group luck before moving off.


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